One image says more than a thousand words
Helping nature to grow back from itself, without the intervention of man imposing his laws on nature like an alchemist, is not always a less attractive or pleasant solution. Let’s take the same bus stop in front of our house. On the left, the bus stop and roadway as it was actually designed and realised according to plan. This side is “managed” by the municipality.
During the work, we spoke to the contractor. Besides the necessary asphalted access for our guests in wheelchairs, we requested and received “earth” instead of gravel. We planted that border ourselves. We have grown, sown and planted shrubs and flowers there ourselves. The grapevine is an old “pied de vigne” and the roses we restored ourselves. Our facade has several climbing plants.
Let’s be honest: which side is cleaner? More importantly, which is more hospitable to rainwater, insects and plants?
What we do as we rewild our garden
Diversity and nature have indeed become important to us.
That is why our B&B is located by an authentic little river and why our surroundings, garden and terrace, are today mainly natural. Alain is an ecological beekeeper and therefore contributes to restoring our diversity. It is important to preserve every animal in the chain and to intervene as little as possible on local and indigenous fauna and flora.
Just as we love our authentic old house with all its charm and benefits, we want to return to an authentic environment. That is why we chose to let our garden and surroundings go wild. Without any explanation, this seems neglect but it goes much further than this and in the opposite direction, it is caring for nature.
We also want to ‘run’ the B&B as ecologically as possible: sheets are not ironed, the heating is deliberately set to a few degrees less, the stoves are fed with compressed wood waste.
We pay maximum attention to local short-chain products and to what the local community has to offer. Here, therefore, you eat fresh and simple. Breakfast is extensive, with fresh-squeezed orange juice, different types of bread from the local bakery, homemade jam from fruits from our garden, eggs from our own chickens and yoghourt that we make ourselves from live yoghourt. Water comes from the tap, fresh, fresh and healthy. Plastic bottles are discouraged as much as possible.
What do you see here
Our contribution to plant and animal diversity is based on projects such as “Rewild your garden” and “Save the bees”. To those unfamiliar with this approach, our environment surely seems untidy and unkept.
Riverbanks are no longer mowed and river trees (alder and ash) are only pruned where they pose a hazard to the environment. These species grow so fast that after a few years we acquire our own firewood by cleaning up the banks a bit. Fallen branches are also left in situ. Meanwhile, in our garden live hedgehogs, moles, mice, rats, toads, frogs, … and mushrooms grow luxuriantly on the mouldered wood.
Blackberries, nettles, thistles and irises also flourish here.
Our entrance is now completely flowered. Wherever reasonably possible, we leave our “weeds”. Dandelions, mustard seed, caraway, they eventually grow, flower and become seeds. They are sources of food for insects and birds in spring, summer, autumn and winter. The plants in the small garden by the terrace are also all bee- and butterfly-friendly. Here, too, we let them fully bloom as food for birds. Here, for example, you can see chives or mint in flower.
There are 20000 different bees. Every plant has its own bee, so to speak. Honey bees by themselves therefore contribute very little to pollination. It is all the other bees and butterflies together that take care of that. This is why we provide an ever-increasing variety of plants.
Birds find shelter everywhere here. Our gutters are not boarded up, holes in the walls remain open. The whole thing also ensures that more and more insects live here and that the balance is restored a little. Immediately, we have less nuisance from mosquitoes and flies, for example. Where possible, we don’t even remove the cobwebs anymore, it provides space for spiders that like to devour what many call pests. You can certainly find a ladybird or butterfly here. Guests usually like that. When it comes to a beetle, fly, spider or moth, we invite you to like them just as much.
Inspirations of "rewild your garden" of Francess Tophill
English horticulturist, Francess Tophill, presenter of Gardeners World, has a strong passion for the wild garden. She tells us that rewilding public spaces and farmland is vitally important for conservation, supporting native species and providing rich habitats on our own doorstep.
Francess’ practical guide shows you how to plan and maintain a beautiful garden that will attract bees and birds. Discover the joys of welcoming natural ecosystems back into your garden, as well as a host of new visitors.
Inspirations of natural beekeeping by Jean-Claude Guillaume
Ecological beekeeping is about protecting the bee, raising awareness of colony collapse disorder and possible solutions, and moving towards hive management that is closer to the natural model. This safeguarding beekeeping, unlike exploitation beekeeping, is characterised by respect for the natural way of life of the bee, the primary aim of which is the safeguarding of the bee and not the production of honey, pollen or propolis, the use of hives adapted to the natural way of life of the bee, fixed apiaries, no treatments or exceptional treatments, simplified management, not interventionist, easy and nevertheless productive.
Save the bees at home? From the beefriendly garden to family beekeeping… there is a whole range of possibilities: I make my garden a paradise for local pollinators, I offer places for them to stay, observe them to understand, go and discover the bee colony.
Interview with JC Guillaume
Jean-Claude Guillaume, a beekeping student of Jean-Michel Frères, explains the interest of ecological beekeeping (or safeguard beekeeping) and the reasons for the colony collapse syndrome, particularly in the case of commercial beekeeping.